Sometimes, I get the feeling I watch professional football games a little differently from most people.
To me, it’s just a mass of bodies on the TV screen, all moving in random, unfathomable directions. Frequently, I have no idea where the ball is. (This adds great excitement and drama to the game.)
But, I still like watching. That’s because, to me, it’s always personal.
Take yesterday’s Super Bowl, for example. I was rooting for the New York Giants for a couple of very good reasons.
First of all, I was worried about their kicker, Lawrence Tynes, after he missed two field goals in the playoff game in Green Bay. The coach and team were clearly mean to him on the sidelines, even after he won the game with a field goal in overtime. I felt awful for Tynes, but even worse for his parents. I was sure they were watching, either in person or on TV, breaking out into hives being nervous for their kid. Since I rooted for my kids on a variety of (mostly losing) soccer teams over the years, I can sympathize.
Second, I like Eli Manning a lot more than Tom Brady. The nerd versus the GQ guy, I’d read. The quarterback who’s engaged to his college sweetheart versus the supermodel consort. The slightly goofy-looking kid versus Mr. Suave. A Roger Staubach type versus a reincarnation of Joe Namath.
It’s no contest. Give me the nerd every time. (Young women of marriageable age: Are you listening? It’s like I told our daughter: Never got out with a man who takes longer getting ready than you do.)
Oh, and as my friend Betsy reminded me, Eli Manning is very close to his mother. I can’t imagine a better reason to root for a quarterback. (Neither of us had ever read anything about Brady’s mother.)
So, I watched, very happily as Brady got thumped and Eli and his whole underdog team finally triumphed. Lawrence Tynes played just fine and I’m pretty sure nobody was mean to him on the sidelines.
Boston versus New York — who cares about that? Coaches? Ditto. A perfect season shattered? Yawn.
But in the classic case of the nerd versus the uber-smooth, I can never help it. The nerd always wins my heart. This isn’t about football; it’s about life. Go Giants!
(Copyright 2008 by Ruth Pennebaker)